MONMOUTH COUNTY – Residents – especially seniors – are being targeted by scammers offering the vaccine for a fee, police said.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni urged residents not to believe any scams offering early access to the COVID-19 vaccine for some form of payment, offering to ship the vaccine for a fee, offering to place you on a waiting list, or offering medical testing and treatment if you get the vaccine.
Sometimes, the scammers claim to be from a doctor’s office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center, police said. They will ask for personal or medical information to make sure you “qualify” for the vaccine. They might ask for information such as your Social Security number, Medicare ID number, date of birth, credit card or bank account information.
“We live in a world where scammers will try anything to get your personal information, medical information, and even your life’s savings using devious tactics. They are willing to pretend to be anyone just to take advantage of you. Please be vigilant – if it seems questionable, then trust your instincts that it is,” warned Prosecutor Gramiccioni.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other web sites are even showing ads advertising the vaccine. These are fraudulent.
“The most important piece of advice during this unusual time is to be overly skeptical of any unsolicited offers of any kind, to stay vigilant no matter how convincing the voice on the other side of the phone may be. Just because it is on the internet does not make it safe or true. Do not share personally identifiable information ever over the phone – social security numbers, Medicare ID numbers, your date of birth, credit card or bank account information – obtaining this information to defraud you is the ultimate objective,” Prosecutor Gramiccioni added.
If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud, call your local police department immediately.
The public should be aware of the following potential indicators of fraudulent activity:
- Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee
- Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list
- Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine
- Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee
- Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients’ eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine
- Claims of Food and Drug Administration approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified
- Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
- Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
Tips to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud:
- Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtaining a vaccine through such channels.
- Check the Food and Drug Administration’s website (fda.gov) for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
- Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
- Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
- Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.
- Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other trusted medical professionals.
- Verify the spelling of web addresses, websites, and email addresses that look trustworthy but may be imitations of legitimate websites.
- Do not communicate with or open emails, attachments, or links from unknown individuals.
- Never provide personal information of any sort via email; be aware that many emails requesting your personal information may appear to be legitimate.